A typical sales process is made of 4 basic elements;
- Finding the prospect (Potential Customer)
- Pitching the prospect
- Making a relationship
- Maintaining the relationship
Sales is the most rigorous and monotonous activity in a business, yet the most important of all. From finding the prospect (Marketing, Advertisement & Cold Calls) to making a relationship (Sign-ups and Bookings), everything is done with the purpose to bring in the sales and ROI.
The greater problem in Nepal’s tourism industry is, the most travel agents lack the basic idea of selling, hence, lower return in sales.
You shouldn’t mistake your customer’s receptivity for your sales skills but their own interest.
The average industry rate for online trip bookings is a mere 15%-20% of the total inquiries received.
The lower rate of conversion is a sign of major faults in the sales practice, however, out of thousands of travel agencies only handful of them ever realize this issue and care to improve it, mainly because, most agents do not come from sales background nor they worry about analyzing the conversion data to improve or update their sales skill.
The only effort in alluring the customers has been through cashing on those prospects who have already made up their mind or by offering heavily discounted deal (incentive) against other agencies’ offers. This results in discrepancy in the prices throughout the industry, which later hurts the travel agencies from falling prices and less ROI.
A Sad Fact is, nobody really cares about the data in this industry, unless you’re an analyst or researcher. Choosing to make the same mistake time and again and getting away with has been the norm.
6 Questions Travel Agents must Address
- Why would a prospect leave my offer and go with someone else?
- Why would a prospect never reply to my emails?
- Have I been pitching my offer wrong the entire time?
- Have I been treating the prospect wrong the entire time?
- Why haven’t I been able to convert most of my email inquiries?
- Do I lower the price to allure the customers or bring up the overall service?
As mentioned in my previous blog @State of Tourism in Nepal, travel agents refuse to look beyond the present market trends. The lack of vision/passion in finding new markets, trends or services will only render you obsolete in the future and prevent you from growing exponentially.
Here are 10 Basic Tips on Improving Sales Activity
- Know your Prospect -Prepare yourself before selling a product to your prospect. The art of selling relies on how well prepared you are to learn more about your customer’s needs, moreover, analyze their age, sex, culture, spending habit and other activities to determine a detailed profile. The better profiling helps you differentiate and serve the customers with certain tastes. (Same applies in marketing)
- Cover the Insights -You can only sell when you are familiar with your own product. Lack of insights is what irate the customers most. Insights of product comes from personal experiences, feedback or extensive research. Prepare and pitch the itinerary to let your customers feel that they are present at the destination, by evoking their emotions.
- Clarity & Patience – “The idea is not to sell on the first meeting.” A prospect contacts you when they are already interested but haven’t made up their mind. They need a fervent push before they can actually commit to pay. Those who have already made their mind will book instead. Therefore, understanding the need before initiating sales pitch may help to hold your prospects’ interest for a longer time. Don’t jump the gun!
- Beat the cliche -Stop copying others, be it their email formats or the way they converse. Prospects love to listen. They will listen to anyone who is willing to talk, however, they’ll always chose the one who stands out. These cliches account for the vicious circle of ill marketing. Most of the time, copying others may result in copying their faults too.
- Ask for feedback/reviews -Always ask for feedback before signing them up and after the end of the trip. In case of bad reviews, addressing them promptly helps in preventing the mistake from happening again, as well as, offer discounts or other incentives to the customer before they discourage others to use your service in the future. Precaution is better than cure!
- Offer incentive -Everyone looks for an incentive to commit for something. If your offer sounds less useful, they will choose to go with some other company who promises a better deal. A better deal isn’t always the discounted price but incentives, an incentive is defined by the overall trip experience (agency’s experience, guide’s experience/knowledge, better accommodation, customer services etc).
- Never misled or oversell -Most negative reviews arise when a sales agent oversells owns product or service, or mislead the customer in believing something that doesn’t exist. If you wish to avoid getting bad reviews in TripAdvisor and a position where you have to clarify your mistakes, then do start following ethical sales practices.
- Stick to the conversation medium -A prospect chooses a medium they are comfortable in. If a person chooses to email you, you do not call them up with your offer unless they allow you to. Similarly, if they chose to talk via Facebook or Twitter, you stick to that medium unless they fell necessary to switch it to any other mediums. They often feel reluctant to share their private information via online form for the harassing calls they may later receive from the marketers.
- Maintain a Brand –“A brand never lies!” The sustenance of your agency relies completely on your brand image. The brand value grows when you are willing to accept the mistakes and change yourself. Hundreds of good reviews won’t rescue you when you may receive one bad review for your ill service. Make a point to invest in customer service, marketing mediums and ethical sales practices to grow the brand in the long run.
- Email Ethics & Prevalent Practices -Email is the ice-breaker. It helps to start a conversation. The idea is not to harass the reader. The email should be kept brief and to the point. The idea is to compel the reader to hit the reply button.As most sales take place online, sales agents make a grave mistake of taking email correspondence for granted, hence losing most of their customers before even getting to make an offer. (I’d be talking about Email ethics and practices in the detail in my next pulse)
A lengthy, poorly formatted and off-topic email often end up in Spam. Similarly, an email with grammatical errors and typos results in being :Unread or read incomplete.